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Orlando’s Taste of the Nation 2012 – Recap

This past weekend, the 23rd Annual Taste of the Nation Orlando took place at the World Center Marriott hotel. It’s purpose: to fight childhood hunger in Central Florida and benefiting local charities Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida and Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida. 100% of the ticket price went to charity and there was a live auction as well during the event. In total, $248,785 was raised through the event!

The event also featured the Creekstone Farms “throw-down” cooking competition rematch, emceed by DJs Scott McKenzie of MIX 105.1 and Paco of 1059 SUNNY FM. Honorary Event Chair Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Orlando Restaurant Guide’s Scott Joseph, and WFTV anchor Bob Opsahl were the judges. Winning for the second year, by just two points, chef Dan Nester of Rosen Shingle Creek Resort had the privilege of signing a generous check to Taste of the Nation Orlando from Creekstone Farms.

The food was fantastic, with some of the very best restaurants in town representing, and giving back graciously to the Central Florida community. My favorite of the evening was Chef Hari Pulapaka of Cress Restaurant’s Fresh Florida Corvina Seafood Ceviche, with a cilantro and mint chimichurri sauce and local pork chicharron, light and airy yet packed with fresh flavors.

Other highlights included Emeril’s Tchoup Chop’s Char Siu Short Ribs in Chinese Bao with Kim Chi Style Slaw and Chef Kevin Fonzo of K Restaurant’s Pan Seared Scallop, Heirloom Tomato, Peach, Watermelon Gazpacho. Sanaa at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge featured a wonderfully delicious South African Butter Chicken Curry, Cumin and Cardamom Infused Basmati Rice, Minted Cucumber Raita, served with a side of Cracked Black Pepper Papadum.For dessert, I definitely could not miss Chef Jean-Louis of Royal Plaza’s Famous Bananas Foster, amazing.

Below are a few photos of the event, as well as a press release.


Live auction at Taste of the Nation

Chef at Marriott World Center Hotel

Olde Hearth Bread Company

With fellow food blogger Pearleen Buchala of and Chef Chau of Sushi Pop

With fellow food blogger Pearleen Buchala of and Julie Bream of and her husband Ryan!

Cold Water Lobster Tail, Heirloom Tomato Tar Tar, Smoked Morel, Green Harissa Aioli from Hilton Orlando’s Spencer’s Steaks and Chops

Executive Chef Jorge Oliviera of Rosen Shingle Creek

Marriott Hotel’s creme brulee

Preparing the edible eggshells

Chef Kevin Fonzo of K Restaurant’s Pan Seared Scallop, Heirloom Tomato, Peach, Watermelon Gazpacho

Smoked Onion Infused House-Made Crème Frâiche, Lentil Crisp

Chef Jean-Louis of Royal Plaza’s Famous Bananas Foster


For the complete set of photos, check out FACEBOOK.COM/TASTYCHOMPS TASTE OF THE NATION 2012 PHOTO ALBUM

Press Release
23rd Taste of the Nation Orlando raises $248,785 to fight childhood hunger!

Share Our Strength’s 23rd Annual Taste of the Nation® Orlando was a huge success this past Saturday, raising $248,785 to fight childhood hunger! Local beneficiaries are Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida and Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, along with the statewide Florida Impact.

More than 2,300 people enjoyed delicacies prepared by 37 of Central Florida’s leading restaurants, bubbly and other beverages from 18 top providers, and live music by local band, Crash Reality.

The night included a silent auction presented by Neiman Marcus, chance drawings for Jet Blue tickets and an island getaway, a live auction, and an instant “wine cellar” of 100 prime bottles to the lucky person whose key opened the lock.

Beyond the great food and great drinks, the evening had a greater cause though – feeding hungry children.

Presented by Darden Restaurants, the fundraiser was organized by a 37-person volunteer steering committee representing a variety of local businesses and organizations. Committee co-chairs were Michele Byington of Regions Bank and Bill Sullivan of I. Wanna Distributors, Inc.

In addition to Darden, many thanks go to major local sponsors, including: the Orlando World Center Marriott, the Harris Rosen Foundation, Cadillac, Creekstone Farms, Walt Disney World, Regions Bank, BB&T, Hilton Grand Vacations, Randy Schimmlpfennig of Morgan & Morgan, Whole Foods Market, CBS Radio’s MIX 105.1 and 1059 SUNNY FM, and WFTV Channel 9 Family Connection. National Taste of the Nation sponsors are the Food Network, Sysco, American Express, and Acqua Panna & S.Pellegrino fine dining waters.

In addition, we would like to thank Progressive Communications for donating their printing services and Frank Mitchell, Brion Price Photography, and DSW Photography for their time and talents as the official event photographers.

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